PORTLAND, Maine — Current shark bites in Florida and Hawaii and a suspected case in New Jersey have piqued curiosity in an age-old summer season query for beachgoers — is it secure to go within the water?
Scientists and researchers who research sharks stated the overwhelming reply to that query is sure, it’s secure. Doubtlessly harmful interactions between people and sharks are unusual, and severe accidents and deaths from the bites are vanishingly uncommon, scientists stated.
Nonetheless, the dramatic nature of shark bites and the tales of survivors, equivalent to Hawaii surfer Mike Morita’s story of preventing off a shark in April, seize the creativeness. It’s a good suggestion to recollect simply how uncommon shark bites really are, scientists stated.
HOW OFTEN DO SHARK BITES OCCUR?
There have been sometimes round 70 to 80 unprovoked shark bites yearly, worldwide, over the previous decade. And never solely are shark bites uncommon, they’ve been particularly uncommon lately.
There have been solely 57 unprovoked bites final 12 months, and 5 of these had been deadly, in keeping with College of Florida’s Worldwide Shark Assault File. There had been 9 such deaths the earlier 12 months.
The shark assault file reported a 12 months in the past that one purpose for the decline in bites is likely to be be the worldwide decline of shark populations.
It’s too early within the heat season to get an thought of how energetic this 12 months shall be for interactions between people and sharks, stated Greg Skomal, a shark professional with the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries.
“If we get plenty of bait fish and forage fish species near shore, we’ve an excellent scorching summer season that attracts individuals to seashores, extra individuals within the water, then we are able to decide the chance,” Skomal.
WHAT ARE THE MOST PRONE AREAS FOR SHARK ENCOUNTERS?
The USA and Australia are sometimes the websites of essentially the most reported shark bites. Florida had extra bites than wherever else on Earth final 12 months with 16 unprovoked bites, two of which resulted in amputations, the shark assault file stated.
This month, two Florida fishermen had been bitten by sharks in separate incidents lower than 36 hours aside.
The speed of shark bites has stayed regular lately, but it surely may really feel like a extra widespread incidence due to the prevalence of smartphones, stated Nick Whitney, a senior scientist on the New England Aquarium in Boston. Not too long ago developed smartphone apps enable customers to report shark sightings in actual time.
WHAT KIND OF SHARKS ARE CAUSE FOR CONCERN?
White sharks, bull sharks and tiger sharks are the sharks most cited by the Worldwide Shark Assault File for unprovoked bites. These species are massive sharks that additionally trigger essentially the most fatalities.
Nevertheless, it’s value taking into account that many interactions with sharks are with smaller species which can be unlikely to trigger severe accidents, stated James Sulikowski, director of the Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station at Oregon State College. These species may chunk a human, notice we aren’t their most well-liked prey and transfer on, he stated.
IS IT SAFE TO SWIM?
Sure. You’re at exponentially larger threat of getting harm in a automotive accident on the way in which to the seashore than you’re to get critically injured by a shark chunk.
Hundreds of thousands of individuals flock to the seashore in the summertime because the climate heats up, and that raises the opportunity of interacting with a shark. However by taking easy precautions, equivalent to not carrying shiny objects into the water and never swimming at daybreak and nightfall, beachgoers can scale back any likelihood of a harmful encounter with a shark, Sulikowski stated.
“We’re intruders of their atmosphere. What we are able to do is be logical and secure about that and keep away from areas the place sharks are going to be feeding,” Sulikowski stated. “When an interplay happens, it’s mistaken id — we’re in an space the place a shark is trying to eat.”
Story by Patrick Whittle